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T stations’ proposed digital billboards upset some preservationists

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Too modern, they say

liran finzi sokolovski/Shutterstock

Outfront Media, the MBTA’s advertising contractor, wants to install digital billboards outside of the Aquarium, Back Bay, Haymarket, Park Street, and Arlington T stops.

The idea of such screens outside of the last two has some preservationists worried about the effects on Boston’s historic core. The Park Street and Arlington stations are right along the Public Garden-Boston Common, basically ground zero for regional tourism.

“It’s just an inappropriate way to use our streetscapes, and we’re against them being right across the street from Boston’s historic parks,” the executive director of the nonprofit Friends of the Public Garden told the Globe’s Adam Vaccaro.

The billboards would display not just T information—arrivals, departures, etc.—but advertisements from perches just above the stairs to and from the stations. The screens are part of a larger MBTA effort, in fact, to boost revenue from ads, including from digital ones through some 700 such electronic billboards by the end of 2018 (there are about 250 now).

Best part, at least from the MBTA’s viewpoint: Outfront Media is picking up the installation costs.

As for the ones outside of Park and Arlington, stay tuned: Opponents make their case to state regulators on February 8.